By Emma Moneuse

For designer Carly Mark, fashion and costume are one and the same.

Though known for designing Beyoncé’s sunglasses in last year’s Black Is King film, Puppets and Puppets is so much more than cool shades. Founded by Carly Mark and Ayla Argentina in 2019, Puppets and Puppets is a breath of fresh air in the fashion scene. Now led solely by New York-based artist and designer Mark, the brand aims to blur the line between fashion and costume.

With a background in fine arts, Mark found that the fashion industry was “surprisingly less conservative than the art word.” She felt there was a void in American fashion that she could fill. And it’s easy to see the tie to Mark’s past focus on consumer culture and American compulsion in her artwork to the brand: a puppet suggests a moveable model of a person, as if consumers are merely puppets on a string. (Though the brand’s name, “funny and macabre” as Mark describes it, is actually inspired by her dog.) This idea poses a challenge to the industry, but the statement is what sets Puppets and Puppets apart.

Many of the pieces incorporate food, which though symbolic of American consumption, is rendered here as a celebration. “I love food. The act of eating is related to community and pleasure, two important parts of being a human,” explains Mark. Her newest collection makes use of cake helmets, shoes with Ferrero Rocher atop the toe and purses in the shape of pomegranates.

Puppets and Puppets brings much needed clowning and fun to the runway. After a year of quarantine, working from home, and hardship, it’s safe to say many are looking for more bright spots. On the runway, Puppets and Puppets presents such an optimistic outlook. The brand’s newest collection focuses on something we have all definitely learned this year: the importance of comfort. In light of the pandemic, Mark says comfort is her focus in this new world.

Puppets and Puppets has a strong identity, meaning that while the industry changes, the brand remains eye-catching. The new collection shows its ability to recalibrate accordingly to the state of the world and for the future, Mark only wants “longevity and inspiration!”

Image credit: Jody Rogac/Puppets and Puppets

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